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Chinese Space Program: China Brings Electric Propulsion To Satellites With Ion Thruster


Other than a throughput capacity that exceeds all of the country's earlier communications satellites taken together, Shijian-13 was another first for the Asian powerhouse: it is propelled by an ion thruster, which coverts solar energy into fuel.

The ion thruster was indigenously developed by Chinese researchers, who spent about five years on it, Chinese daily Global Times reported. The thruster reduces the amount of jet propellant needed to be carried by the spacecraft for it to carry out maneuvers in space, potentially improving efficiency by up to a factor of 10, according to engineers from the Lanzhou Institute of Physics, which built the thruster.

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